Be Dazzled

The Boston Convention Center has good security, but it doesn’t have missile launchers, which means it would have a pretty tough time defending itself against Evie Odom.

Be Dazzled, Ryan la Sala, Source Books 2021

I know a story – and definitely a YA one – needs a clear villain, but Be Dazzled picking the protagonist’s mother without ever even mentioning his father somehow didn’t sat right with me.

It’s the one bother in this cute story about a neurotic, talented cosplayer that has to take his ex on in a cosplaying con competition. Of course the adorable, in the closet cool guy ended things terribly and our protagonist will never love (him) again. It’s YA, after all.

With such a title anything but an overload of glitter and loving descriptions of outfits and designs would fall short, but La Sala delivers. It outbalances the negative and circling thoughts of Raffy about himself and everything he does.

If I enjoyed it, the target audience might really run with this. I hope they do.

The devil and the dark water

Arent Hayes howled in pain as a rock slammed into his massive back.

The devil and the dark water, Stuart Turton, Sourcebooks 2020

It’s been a day since I finished the book (I had to rush the last 200 pages because of a deadline), and I’ve only become more flabbergasted since. There really was a 410 page build-up for something that was turned around in five pages.

The devil and the dark water goes for the Sherlock Holmes-trope of a gentle, slightly goofy very intelligent small man and a brute of a protector; this time they’re called Sammy and Arent. The location is a WIC-ship and is it a devil or something or somebody else that is causing all of that chaos and mayhem? Dum dum dum, etc.

The other thing that makes this caper less fun (the first thing being “The Twist”) is that it all goes on for too long. The author mentions that he didn’t want to add more characters, but he could have done a character-cut twice more to bring some clarity and add some speed.

In all honesty, I think it would have been a more exciting and original story if he would have started with The Twist and showed those shenanigans in seventeenth-century Europe. But Turton already promised a next book, so who knows.

Probably Sammy and Arent.

The Girl from the Well

I am where dead children go.

And the third book of the ‘no more than two hundred pages’ theme that I seem to be working with the past few weeks. I feel like 1) it could have been even shorter (just a bit, to tighten it a little, and 2) this one would have been more appealing, extraordinary, without a sequel, but it’s clear that there’s one coming.

The girl from the well in The Girl from the Well is just one of the main characters, a ghost who looks out for abused and murdered children. So why did she gravitate towards the alive Tarquin, and his cousin Callie? And why isn’t the only creature?

The Girl from the Well uses Japanese mythology and turns the trope of the Chosen One inside out. It does so with some horrific elements, because the girl didn’t end up in the well for pleasant reasons, nor is what she recognises in Tarquin very pleasant. But besides that, Tarquin is still a teenager in high school, and Rin Chupeco keeps that nicely balanced.

If you like your ‘quick summer reads’ with some horror dolloped in, this one’s for you.

The Girl from the Well, Rin Chupeco, Sourcebooks Inc 2014

The Vicious Deep

I hear the first wave before I see it-

Teenage boys really think about their dicks a lot. Being related to the king of the mermaids isn’t that important, where did his dick go?

But okay, mermaids for once, instead of vampires or werewolves. And no matter how often the main character wishes he would have a more masculine problem (oh, male teenagers), there’s nothing girly or frilly about the world he ends up in.

Tristan has – I assume – plain male teenager problems, until he survives a freak wave, gets sick and starts dreaming of a scary mermaid.

Combine discovering a whole new side of himself and his family with a best friend/love interest and finishing high school, and neither the reader or Tristan get time to take a breather.

The Vicious Deep offers some nice world building and (strange) insight to the teenage boy’s mind. It’s the first book of a series, but can do fine without any sequels.

The Vicious Deep, Zoraida Córdova, Sourcebooks 2012